Saved | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

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SAVED, Oblivion Theatre Company, at the Athenaeum Theatre. In its time--1965--Edward Bond's kitchen-sink drama about lower-class British youths and their aimless, violent lives was so shocking the British government tried to ban it. But today the script's measly single murder, handful of shouting matches, and occasional smutty remarks would seem pretty tame even on television.

A company has to do something extraordinary to make Saved seem anything more than a finely crafted museum piece. And sadly, extraordinary theater is in short supply here these days. It's certainly not in evidence in Oblivion Theatre's dutifully researched but not very exciting production.

The problem isn't the acting. These young performers really throw themselves into Bond's dreary realism: their every gesture, scratch, and sigh speaks volumes about the characters' dead-end lives. The problem is that director Dan Winkler doesn't build the momentum from scene to scene. Nor is he able to twist the story's tension taut. Even the play's sensational climax, in which blue-collar thugs murder an infant--the scene that so riled British censors--passes without waking the audience from its slack-jawed trance.

--Jack Helbig

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